What to look for when buying boat insurance

An article from  http://www.rya.org.uk/Pages/Home.aspx

Let’s get started - first of all why do you need boat insurance?

It’s a fair enough question and whilst it is not a legal requirement on many waters, having appropriate cover does make sound financial sense. Marine mortgage companies for instance insist on compulsory insurance as part of their money lending process. However, there are two stand-out reasons why boat insurance is not a ‘would like to have’ but a ‘must have’:

  1. Firstly you have to protect your capital investment against loss or damage which ultimately could result in a large and costly repair bill if the worst were to happen!
  2. Secondly having adequate boat insurance can help to protect you against any third party liability for injury or damage caused by you or your vessel.

What can influence the premium payable?

From a small dinghy to a large super-yacht or a fast and furious Jet Ski, each vessel will attract a different level of risk, so just like car insurance - boats are usually categorised according to their vessel type.

It goes without saying that a ‘Sunseeker’ with powerful engines costing several hundred thousand pounds will be far more expensive to insure than a smaller, much less powerful craft.

A yacht will have a different risk assessment than a dinghy or a jet ski, so insurers will factor in the type of the vessel and any potential repair bills before calculating the premium.

So in general, the actual size of the boat isn't as important as its value, how easily it could be stolen and the potential for damage. If your boat is trailerable and spends a large amount of time safely tucked away on your drive, you'll probably pay a different premium than if it was stored at a marina.

The area in which you intend to keep and use the boat will also have an influence on the level of premium you pay and may have restrictions on cover that are subject to local weather conditions.

Finally the experience of the owner / users, the type of use i.e. whether it is used privately, as a charter or racing vessel and of course any previous claims experiences are all taken into consideration when calculating the premium.

What type of features should I look for in my policy?

  • The level of premium is obviously very important but it should not be the sole deciding factor: you must try and strike a harmonious balance between costs vs. benefits
  • All policies are different, so make sure the one you choose is going to provide the cover you want and need. Handy tip - assess the very expensive parts of your boat and check not only that your policy provides cover for damage to those parts, but also what deductions may apply in the event of a claim
  • Are any replacement costs issued on a new-for-old basis?
  • Exclusions - make sure you look out for any exclusions in your policy. All policies have them, so check your wording very carefully
  • Ensure that the policy covers any cruising grounds you wish to sail into
  • Finally do make sure the insurer is authorised and approved by the regulatory body of the country in which they are based; here it is the Financial Conduct Authority.

Summary of a typical boat insurance policy

Any physical damage covered by a boat insurance policy will usually include your equipment such as hull, sails, machinery, furnishings, on-board equipment, and the trailer if applicable.

Standard cover normally includes:

  • Accidental damage, including fire, theft and malicious damage, sinking, stranding, collisions and salvage costs
  • Damage to engines
  • Transit risks up to 30 feet in length
  • Lifting and launching risks
  • Loss or damage caused by latent defects
  • Frost
  • Damage to mast and rigging whilst racing can be purchased for an additional premium
  • Personal effects

Third Party

Provides protection for you or authorised persons using your boat from claims made by third parties for death or injury or damage to third-party property for which you may become legally labile.

Typical policy exclusion:

  • Damage caused by wear and tear
  • Wilful misconduct
  • Loss of value due to age of vessel
  • Losses caused by corrosion osmosis
  • Mast, spars and sails whilst racing unless the policy has been extended
  • Damage to machinery following breakdown
  • Theft unless the right security devices or locks are fitted
  • The policy excess relating to damage caused by you and also on any third party claims.

Where do you buy your policy?

Whether you buy a policy from a specialist insurance broker, direct from the insurer, or via the web - all have their own merits but of course the main point to establish is to ensure you only insure as appropriate, and don’t scrimp on cover if your demands are likely to be high.


So to summarise: review any potential policy in detail before you commit to purchase, make sure you understand what is covered, but more importantly make sure you understand what is not covered. By undertaking a thorough analysis of every possible scenario including those applicable to your own circumstances, you should be able to get the right cover for your vessel and enjoy peace of mind sailing without unnecessary worry.

Please note this article contains general advice only and is not specific advice for any individual customer. If you are unsure as to which policy is best for you, contact your marine insurance broker or insurers who will be able to advise you accordingly.www.bishopskinner.com

RYA Training - What is it?

Elements Watersports runs RYA powerboat courses in New Zealand, here is some background on the great scheme that Pete has been involved with for 20 years. 


RYA Training celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2011 and over the years literally millions of people have participated in and benefited from the worlds leading collection of training schemes for a variety of boating activities.

Despite being very well established and well known we are still sometimes asked “what is RYA Training all about?”, so Richard Falk, RYA Training Manager challenged himself to try and answer that question (in about 1,000 words!)

Many years ago some clever boffin came up with the bright idea to arrange some structured, standardised training based around sailing dinghies. I will not begin to guess whose idea this may have been initially for risk of offending someone. Needless to say, this idea was a stroke of genius and RYA Training was born.

The training schemes revolve around a well thought through syllabus, delivered by RYA trained instructors and within the environment of an RYA recognised training centre. Annual inspections of training centres are carried out by the RYA to ensure that vessels meet the required standard and that safety management is effective and appropriate for the activities being undertaken. As a potential student, seeing the RYA recognised training centre logo should give you confidence that the training centre meets the high standards of the RYA and that you are safe in the hands of their instructors. 


Over the years the dinghy scheme has grown, initially through the support of clubs and military operations and eventually through commercial sailing businesses. Following on from the initial success in dinghies RYA training began to spread its wings and has since then developed training schemes covering: Sail Cruising, Motor Cruising, Power Boats, Windsurfing, Inland Waterways, Personal Watercraft, Shore based courses, ELearning, Super Yacht personal watercraft and keel boats.

With a network of more than 2,500 RYA recognised training centres in 46 countries, 25,000 RYA qualified instructors deliver training to almost 200,000 people per year. It is the most successful scheme of its type in the world.



The training is supported by a wide range of publications specifically designed to support individual courses across a wide range of schemes. Whether you are learning the basics of keeping a dinghy upright or the intricacies of meteorology there is an RYA publication to suit your needs. With more than 100 titles in hard copy and a range of digital publications growing by the week, it’s fair to say that we have something to cover just about any need you might have to read or learn about some aspect of boating.

It would be remiss of me to speak of RYA training without mentioning qualifications. All of our courses are designed to build the knowledge, skill and confidence of the student. At the end of the course (subject to satisfactory completion) the student will obtain a course completion certificate that indicates they have a) completed the course and b) met the required standard. There are varying levels of courses so regardless of whether you are venturing onto the water for the first time or looking to further develop your knowledge after years of experience there is something there for everyone.

More and more people are also choosing careers in the marine industry. Whether you’re aspiring to work on superyachts, get involved with the renewable energy sector or any one of a wide range of other industry sectors the RYA Yachtmaster certificate of competence is the ideal starting point. This qualification is a certificate of competence that is recognised both in the UK and in many foreign countries and is obtained after successful completion of a detailed and challenging practical and theory exam. Many people undertake this exam just for the personal satisfaction of knowing that they have achieved this envaiable standard of skill whilst others elect to do it to enable them to work in the industry.

Across all of our training schemes there are clear pathways for people to progress all the way from novice through to actually instructing within those schemes. Some people will undertake their instructor qualifications to enable them to volunteer at their local club to assist others to learn how to sail. Others will earn their instructor qualifications in order to be able to go and forge a career in some aspect of the boating industry. The opportunities are endless. 


We have worked hard over many years to build the name and reputation of RYA training and qualifications. As a result of this we now find that RYA boating qualifications are accepted in most parts of the world as credible evidence of someones boating competence. On the professional front RYA commercial qualifications are the qualifications of choice within the superyacht industry and are accepted in many countries across the globe.

Whether hiring a dinghy off a beach in the Caribbean, chartering a yacht on the Great barrier Reef or starting a career in Superyachts your RYA qualifications will come in handy.

Most importantly RYA training is fun! Our courses are designed to provide particiapnts with the opportunity to learn both practical skills and theory knowledge in an on water environment. As a result hundreds of thousands of people are introduced to boating in some form each year and they do so in a safe and supported way that we hope will encourage them to carry on an activity that most of us are addicted to.

To find out more about RYA Training visit http://www.rya.org.uk/coursestraining

And call Elements Watersports 0800 486 729  for how we can get you RYA trained in New Zealand.


RYA Safety Boat Course – A life saver!

Do this great course with Elements Watersports, the only RYA school in NZ that runs sailing and windsurf courses throughout the year. Learn from those that know how and are up to date with best practice.

RYA Safety Boat Course – A life saver! 

Learn more about the course, what's involved, dealing with entrapments and how real life application can save lives.

The RYA Safety Boat course is a two day course aimed at those who supervise or provide safety cover for dinghy fleets and windsurfers.

It is a very practical course where each student gets hands-on experience of rescuing single-handers; double-handers; full inversions; capsize with spinnaker up, as well as windsurf rescues and possibly kayak and canoe rescue (kayak and canoe rescue may only be covered in theory).

“We would encourage all those working in a support capacity for clubs or centres to consider attending this popular and useful course, and to make full use of the opportunities to practice techniques that the exercises in the course provide,” comments Rachel Andrews, RYA Chief Instructor, Motor Cruising and Power.

The course focusses on safe powerboat driving and how to use the stricken boat’s crew to assist in their own rescue. You’ll also discuss different scenarios, mark laying and learn how to set safe courses.

“The course is undoubtedly a tiring one as there is plenty of rescuing action, but most students really enjoy the thrill of affecting a good rescue,” concluded Rachel.

One aspect of the course is dealing with entrapments.

We all know there is a risk of entrapment when a dinghy capsizes. Avoidance techniques and rescue procedures are many and varied, but there are two recurring themes.

Firstly, in a training situation the use of a masthead float would, in most situations, prevent complete inversion. The fact that an entangled crew member’s head would be close to or on the surface, would allow them to at least take a breath and buy them some time while others deal with trying to free them.

Secondly, if a dinghy needs to be righted quickly, the traditional method of two hefty folk on the upturned hull applying leverage to the centreboard will bring the dinghy to 90 degrees as quickly, if not quicker, than any other method.

Case study

A day boat was being raced in a regatta, helmed by a disabled gentleman with a crew of three experienced sailors. During a downwind leg, the boat inadvertently gybed and inverted, and the helm was trapped underwater beneath the hull. The situation was exacerbated by a modification to the boat and the fact that the helm was wearing an automatically inflated lifejacket.

The day boat crew and the crew of the attending RIB made brave attempts to reach the trapped sailor, but it was only once of the RIB’s crew used a line to right the craft, were they able to reach the helm, who by then had stopped breathing. Fortunately, due to the prompt first aid given, the helm began to breathe for himself and was quickly evacuated to hospital by the local air ambulance, where he made a full recovery.

Investigation after the event revealed that the crew of the RIB concerned had been on a RYA Safety Boat course and had received training on how to right inverted dinghies - a significant factor in this case.

Sadly, entrapments continue to occur, occasionally with deadly results, but with the right training there are some encouraging signs that it can be avoided, as our case study illustrates.

Course overview

Basic understanding of sailing boats and windsurfers. RYA Powerboat Level 2 certificate must be held prior to this course Minimum duration 2 days
Finish16Course content Preparation, boat handling, dinghy rescue, windsurfer rescue, kayak or canoe rescue (can be covered as theory), towing, end-of-day procedures, safety, suitability of craft, local factors, communication, rescuing other water users
Ability after the course Able to provide safety or support cover to a range of craft, particularly sailing or windsurfing

To find out more about the RYA Safety Boat course and other RYA Training courses visit www.rya.org.uk/coursestraining

Variety is the spice of what we do

Hi, one of the things that makes running elements watersports so much fun is the variety. For example in the last few days I've been teaching powerboating and VHF from a super yacht in Auckland Harbour and then back in Tauranga getting a new sailor cruising up and down wind in an Omega dinghy from Kulim Park, Tauranga Harbour). This variety is not just good for us, it's often given as the reason for why students choose us, particularly on the more advanced or big group bookings. When run an activity we are also drawing on delivery methods and skills from other activities. In my experience the best seasoned instructors always have a random coaching qualification, gained to improve instructional technique/ diversity. In my case it's a basketball coach award, I can't say I've used it much on a court but it comes to mind every time I develop drills and brief groups for an activity.